- Kathy came out to Blue Mile and ran with me on Saturdays while I was training;
- the Fast Bottom Girls worked one of the water stops (around mile 15 or so I think) and ran with me for a little while;
- Lindsey was at the Athletic Annex water stop around mile 19 and gave me some jelly beans and ran with me;
- I met and ran with Jen (running her 120-somethingth marathon) from mile 20 to 24 and saw her again at the finish;
- Jeanette was at mile 26 cheering and taking pictures;
- Beth met me at the finish line with flowers;
- and Matt & Tim were there in the gear check tent to congratulate me.
If you've never run a marathon, you can't imagine how mentally challenging it is. I wanted to quit so many times, but having so many friends cheer for me and even run with me for a bit kept me going when I just wanted to lie down in the shade with a cold drink. I remember thinking then that I was glad I picked Carmel for my first marathon since the support along the course that day meant so much to me, and that I was really lucky to have so many good friends in my life. I had no idea how true that really was though.
Five days after Carmel, Kevin died of a heart attack, and my life went into a tailspin from which it still hasn't recovered. And much like that marathon, I could not have made it this far without the support of so many friends. So many times these past two years, I have just wanted to lie down and quit. But every time I think I can't take another step, someone shows up with just what I need to keep going for a little bit longer.
I'm humbled and amazed and grateful to have so many wonderful friends in my life. From friends I've known for over 20 years to friends I recently met. I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I thank God every day for all of you, because without you I would be a complete basket case all the time, instead of just now and then.
I talk a lot on this blog about my running friends, but I have some pretty awesome coworkers too, and great friends at church, wonderful neighbors, internet friends, classmates from high school, summer camp & college.... I wish I could list everyone out, because I'm not sure you all know how much you help me, and some of you may not realize how much you matter to me.
So this blog post is for you. If you've ever called me, texted me, run with me, gone to the movies with me, bought me a beer, snuck flowers into my office, given me a hug, given me a high five, listened to me cry, laughed at my inappropriate jokes, put up with my crazy mood swings, lent me a power tool, given me home improvement advice, sent me a card, met me for brunch, invited me out, stopped by to see me, or come to some event I organized: Thank you. I love you.
When you see me post #hazelstrong, know that it's just an abbreviation. What I'm really saying is #hazelisonlystrongbecausesomanyfriendsarecarryingher